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Voices / Letters from readers

Brattleboro school board vote defies will of people

Voters in Brattleboro need to know that, on Dec. 20, the Brattleboro School Board ignored the will of the voters and voted 3–2 against the Alternative Governance Structure application and instead asked the State Board of Education to impose the defeated school merger proposal on our community. I was not able to attend the meeting but watched most of it on BCTV.

What was most disturbing about the meeting was the way the chair of the School Board ran the meeting, tag-teaming with the finance director of the WSESU, to insist that the AGS articles couldn’t achieve the same efficiencies as a merger and saying legal obstacles with health insurance would impede sharing of core teachers.

In effect, they took on the role of the State Board of Education and steamrolled over the questions and opinions of board members who seemed to want to support the AGS application.

The chair and the administration did this even though they knew that the AGS committee had begun consulting with a lawyer to find a solution to the issues they were raising.

It seemed to to me that the chair was still acting as a member of the Merger Study Committee and not as a representative of the voters. It was noteworthy that the atmosphere in this meeting was very similar to that of the Merger Study Committee meetings that I attended in the past: the agenda was pushing the merger, and anyone who had a different opinion was quickly passed over or rebutted.

If you are upset about this vote, consider watching the video yourself on BCTV: (Start watching it at about 2 hours, 40 minutes into the meeting.)

The AGS Committee did submit its proposal to the State Board of Education, and now the decision about what will happen to our schools is in that board’s hands. We will not get another vote.

Therefore, an important step you can take now is to contact your state representatives and ask that they respect democracy and the majority vote in all the towns in the WSESU against a merger.

Ask them to advocate for us with the State Board of Education to not impose a merger on towns that have all voted against it. Instead, ask them to urge the SBOE to work with the AGS to create an enhanced supervisory governance structure that will keep our local school boards and still accomplish the goals of Act 46.

Judy Davidson

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Originally published in The Commons issue #441 (Wednesday, January 10, 2018). This story appeared on page D3.

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